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Opportunity for businesses to help shape MEA’s New Food and Drink Network

by | Jan 11, 2022

Local food and drink producers are invited to the launch event of the Mid and East Antrim Food and Drink Network on Wednesday 19 January at 10:30am.

The re-establishment of a network for the sector was identified as part of an agri-food study commissioned by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council in June 2019.

Since the study, Council has invested in a suite of supports specifically designed and focused on supporting the sector.

These include SPROUT, a tailored start-up mentoring programme to support innovative agri-food business idea.

The Agri-food Demonstrator Pilot Grant Scheme, which enables eligible businesses in the agri-food sector within Mid and East Antrim to access financial support for small scale demonstrator projects.

And more recently the Food and Drink Accelerator Programme, delivered in partnership with Dumfries & Galloway Council, which aims to provide intensive acceleration support and provide businesses with the opportunity to gain the skills, capabilities, learn from peers and support to scale rapidly and sustainably.

Council also provides support to enable producers to exhibit and meet buyers at key events such as the Balmoral Show.

The re-establishment of the network is perfect way to bring together participating businesses from these initiatives and the wider agri-food sector across the Borough to collectively create a voice, capture challenges and to identify opportunities to strengthen your own business and indeed the sector within the Borough.

Council is delighted to confirm that this exciting new network will be developed with the expert support and guidance of Birnie Consultancy.

With more than 40 years’ success in the agri-food industry they bring expertise to organisations across the entire food chain, nationally and internationally, to drive business performance and operational improvements while helping businesses build on their capabilities, productivity, profitability enabling them to access different markets.

Council has tasked Birnie Consultancy with the role of lead facilitator of the network for the next six months with the aim of working with the Borough’s food and drink producers to deliver an ‘industry led’ action plan, which will inform the direction of the network and the key initiatives the sector can be supported through or collectively embark upon in the longer term.

This launch event provides a chance for you to introduce you and your business and find out about other businesses in the Borough and an opportunity to find out about the forthcoming calendar of events, which will take place through the network over the next six months and importantly gives you a head start to shaping the network.

You will also get a chance to hear from Special Guest – Santina Kennedy, who is a specialist at Powerscourt Distillery and also the Co-ordinator of Wicklow Naturally – a very successful food and drink network which champions the area’s wonderful food and drink producers.

Santina will give an insight into the benefits of being involved in a network and what the sector in Wicklow has achieved by working together.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor William McCaughey, said: “The re-establishment of a Food and Drink network in the Borough provides a great platform for local businesses to engage with each other, collaborate to face challenges or identify new opportunities to strengthen their businesses and indeed the sector as a whole within the Borough.

“The network recognises need for businesses to be innovative and competitive to remain sustainable, which has been reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic and additionally the new challenges such as climate change and energy costs affecting businesses.

“The network can provide an opportunity for the sector to work together to tackle these challenges, harness existing capabilities and excellence in quality food and drink production whilst looking to embrace new skills, new market opportunities, new levels of innovation, in order to futureproof and strengthen the sector moving forward.

“I would urge food and drink producers throughout the Borough to get involved by attending the network launch event and to play your part in shaping the future direction of the network.”

Endorsing the network Adrian Morrow, Estate Manager said “Mid and East Antrim is home to some of the finest food and drink producers and retailers, I myself benefitted greatly from the network initiatives in previous years, helping us develop aspects of the business, so I’m delighted to support the re -launch of Mid and East Antrim Food and Drink Network.

“This will allow this sector to work together to develop and showcase amazing produce from our rich agricultural land and coast”.

How to get involved?

Step 1: In order to get some initial information prior to the meet up please complete a quick survey by clicking here (this is mandatory prior to registration/attendance at event)

Step 2: Then please register your place at the event by clicking here.

If you require further details on the initiative or have any queries please do not hesitate to contact Mary O’Boyle, Economic Development Officer email: Mary.OBoyle@midandeastantrim.gov.uk

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